I purchased an X-Wing pilot helmet from DarthHair in May. The kit arrived recently and I eagerly began assembly. Total assembly and paint time was about 20 hours over a 3 week duration. Most of that time was painting.
The kit is complete and provides all the parts required. The quality is excellent and a 3 part assembly tutorial video is provided. Some additional tools and materials are required including a rivet gun, clamps, ABS cement, glue, and paint.
The assembly of the kit only took about 5 hours. The tutorials were great and easy to follow. I especially like the ability to raise and lower the visor.
Next, the part I dread – the painting. I think too many people might be trying to replicate Luke Skywalker’s helmet, so I decided to go with something a bit different. Searching online, I found some good front and side images of Theron Nett’s helmet (Red 10 from Episode IV). The paint job seemed relatively simple and something I could do with my limited painting skills.
I scuffed the surface with sandpaper to help the paint adhere (made me cringe to scuff the polished surface), and began applying the paint layers. I painted the white first. I debated on painting white at all, but the front mohawk cap was a different shade of white, and I also wanted to hide the rivets and glue. Paint I used:
- Americana Gloss Enamel White (DAG01)
- FolkArt Metalic Gunmetal Gray (667)
I used different size foam brushes to apply the paint. The Gray went on smoothly and had a nice glossyfinish, but the white looked streaky. After multiple coats, both looked acceptable. I tried to use 3M plastic tape to get some clean lines, but it pulled up the paint as I pulled it off – ugh! So, I switches to some low-stick drafting tape which worked much better, but id didn’t have the ability to do the tight curves as the 3M tape.
Next, I applied the decals. DarthHair’s video tutorial stops at the end of construction, so I viewed other tutorials about how to apply the decals. They recommend trimming and soaking in water. Unfortunately, the decals provided were really stickers and did not need to be soaked, so I ruined 2 ear decals. I realized my mistake before destroying any others, and was able to apply most of the decals without issue. DarthHair generously provided more decals so I could complete the build.
Theron Nett’s helmet has some interesting designs including 2 large circles on top and some designs on the mohawk. I knew my painting skills were not up to that challenge, so I drafted the designs in PowerPoint, converted them to transparent .GIF files, and had them printed as transparent vinyl stickers by StickerYou.com. The vinyl stickers came out a bit smaller than I expected, and were not as opaque as I had hoped, but were easy to work with and looked good enough (almost a weathered look). I anticipated issues with getting the larger stickers to lay nicely on the curved helmet surface, so I made a cut the full radius of the circle, and allowed a tiny bit of overlap.
Finally, I applied a clear coat on top of the paint and decals to preserve everything and give it a shiny finish. Unfortunately, this caused my vinyl stickers to roll slightly on the edges, so I used some clear nail polish to tack them down.
Every time I look, I still see tiny things I’d like to correct, but overall, I’m satisfied with the result.
I’m not personally a fan of weathering, although I know it’s more aligned with the screen versions. I also understand it is helpful to hide some of the imperfections made during construction. I’ve decided to keep this helmet shiny and new. Maybe, over time, it will naturally weather. 🙂